Preparing for the Inevitable

Do you know how to handle your family’s financial transactions?

The Rev. Jerry Kolb Five-minute read.   Resources

In a conference call with the Church Pension Fund, we became aware of a situation that has prompted us to provide some education. It has to do with the death of a partner and financial transactions.

If you have been allowing your partner to do all the banking, paying bills and general financial transactions (especially online), we would like to encourage you to immediately begin sharing those responsibilities. In the instance we became aware of, the husband was doing all the financial transactions. When he died, even though they had joint accounts, the surviving spouse was unable to do any financial transactions because she did not have the passwords, login information, account numbers or access codes to access the required accounts.

Please begin to share financial responsibilities with your partner. Record your passwords and account numbers in a secure location which is familiar to both of you. Consider using an online password and account manager to make this process easier. Help your spouse pay bills ‘online’ (if that is your financial method) so they know how to do it. Also, make sure that both you and your partner’s names are on your accounts.

This kind of information is still important if you pay your bills by a paper check. It is also important if you are a single person handling your affairs. Someone will need this information. Make sure they know how to find it.

One suggestion is to alternate doing the monthly financial transactions. If there is a question, someone is there to provide the answer.

When there is a death of a spouse, the bank and the utility companies will be of little help to you without this kind of information.

Also remember, this issue isn’t just limited to financial transactions. Couples often split the workload. What responsibilities does your partner undertake that you would not know how to deal with if they were to die or become incapacitated?

Facebook Memorialization Page

With the proliferation of online accounts and social media, it’s a good idea to consider putting together an ‘online will’, setting out what should be done with your online accounts when you die. Facebook, for example allows you to elect a ‘Legacy Contact’ to oversee and memorialize your account.

Be proactive!

Fr. Jerry Kolb is Chaplin for Retired Clergy in The Diocese of West Missouri.


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Book Review: “Do This, Remembering Me”

The Rev. Jerry Kolb One-minute read.   Resources

What’s the most difficult pastoral care visit you’ve had to make? I suspect that many would say it is visiting a person who has advanced dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. There is now help with this issue in the form of a very practical little book written by an Episcopal priest, Colette Bachand-Wood.

In this 111-page paperback book, she conveys some her own experience with her demented father together with her pastoral experience as a Hospice Chaplain and a parish priest. She introduces you to a number of people and uses their stories to help you understand particular situations. Over the years she has collected these ‘stories’ and presents some very practical and meaningful ‘actions/suggestions’ to help in ministering to these people.

While much of the book is focused on providing pastoral care, the suggestions and activities she offers are just as valuable to family members dealing with this issue. She provides a number of the most common signs of dementia and suggests some ways to best approach these people. Helping people to recognize their own body language, choosing the best words and being aware of your own tone of voice are some of the suggestions she offers to help in communicating. At the conclusion of the book, she provides three appendices:

  • Putting together a worship service,
  • Prayers, and
  • Resources in which she provides a number of additional activities and services.

Interestingly, the parish she serves is designated as a “Dementia Friendly” parish. She has people in her congregation specifically trained to assist families that want to continue to bring their loved ones to worship. These people know how to assist family members if and when something unexpected might happen. This is a great book and every clergy person should read, mark and inwardly digest the wisdom that Colette Bachand-Wood has so succinctly shared with her readers. It was published in 2016 by Morehouse Publishing and is available through Church Publishing or Amazon.

The Rev. Jerry Kolb is a Chaplain to the Retired Clergy and Surviving Spouses for The Diocese of West Missouri.